Daniel received his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2013. His past research includes electromagnetic railgun development, polymer-metal nanoparticle compounds for energy efficient mechanical switching, and melt blown polymer nanofibers for filtration applications. He began his MS/PhD program at UC Berkeley in Fall 2013 with a MEMS concentration. Current research interests include microrobotics, electrohydrodynamic thrusters, nanomechanical switches, and wireless mesh networks. He is currently supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
Autonomous Flying Microrobots [BPN826]
Even as autonomous flying drones enter the mainstream, there has been no strong push for miniaturization by industry. This project looks to develop a new microfabricated transduction mechanism for flying microrobots with the goal of opening up the application space beyond that allowed by standard quadcoptors. The proposed mechanism, atmospheric ion thrusters, offer some advantages over traditional drone flight (e.g. with rotors) and also the opportunity to bring together multiple MEMS technology areas into one integrated system. Microfabricated silicon electrodes are currently being used to create devices with thrust to weight ratios in excess of 15. Robots with four individually addressable thrusters have been assembled that are around 15mg and less than 2cm on a side. We hope to demonstrate repeatable tethered takeoff and constrained attitude control in the near future.Ultimately, integration with a low power control and communications platform will yield a truly autonomous flying microrobot with ion thrusters – the ionocraft.